Tuesday, July 4, 2017

[CSIO] Religions of the City State Part 2: Morg, Nephthys, and Pegana

Religions of the City State of the Invincible Overlord
Part 2 of 3

4) HELL-BRIDGE TEMPLE (“Temple of the Eye”)
Gods: Hanuman the Accursed, the Ape-God, is the ostensible deity of worship. Hanuman the Accursed was once a godling who served Thoth (under the name “Thoth Astennu”) in Ancient Ghinor, but broke away from his teachings during the First Age, when he grew great in power and became a true god. Today, after many centuries, Thoth and Hanuman the Accursed maintain a general dislike of each other, and ignore each other when possible — their followers take their old grudge more seriously than do the gods, which leads to troubles now and again.

The Baleful Eye of Morg
Hanuman the Accursed is served by the demigod Morg the Abominable, his son and greatest champion of the central Wilderlands — and while the faithful also praise Hanuman the Accursed, it is Morg that the priests of the Hell-Bridge Temple worship directly, as the source of their power and the subject of their veneration. More specifically, it is the Baleful Eye of Morg that is revered, the very ocular orb that was ripped from Morg during one of his great battles (though it is an item of contention among the faithful in exactly which battle the eye was lost).

In truth, it is power the priests and acolytes serve and desire, and Morg and his Eye are simply a path thereto — so no few of the clergy also call upon demons and loathsome cosmic entities for service.

Worshipers: Anyone, though most who visit the temple regularly seek knowledge for power, rather than knowledge for its own sake. Many local farmers also make a pilgrimage and perform sacrifices of grain and livestock before the growing season, as the Baleful Eye of Morg is said to have power over the weather. It is also a favorite temple of assassins, courtesans, and blackmailers.

Priesthood: Mostly clerics, with a few magic-users, sages, illusionist, and shamans, and a handful of anti-paladins.

Patriarch: Statinstor the Torturer (said to be the most powerful cleric in the City State).

Alignments: Worshipers are usually Chaotic, though many Neutrals visit the temple to seek knowledge and power, as well as good rains and bountiful harvests. Initiates and priests must be Chaotic.

Symbol: The Baleful Eye of Morg, an eyeball with a fiery-red cornea and a vertical slit-pupil, the whole surrounded by an aura of crackling power.

Enemy Gods: Thoth (though neither make much of it these days); Varuna, Asura, Rama, and Hanuman the Mighty from Telanghata; and Mitra, as Morg’s followers have sought power through evil and destruction and the use of the blackest magic.

Regular Worshiper’s Benefit: A very cult-like temple, most benefits accrue to those inducted into the “Inner Mysteries.” You get a 10% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Semi-Exclusive Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may use a language slot to learn Infernal, or learn it later through worship and training. You get a 25% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Initiate Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may cast hypnotism. Once you have cast the spell, you regain its use only after you sacrifice at the temple and engage in at least two hours of prayer. You get a 50% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Afterlife: Like those of other originally Ghinorian-based faiths (save Harmakhis), the followers of the Hell-Bridge Temple believe in the Judgment of Ma’at. However, their belief is that the wisdom and power of Hanuman the Accursed and Morg provide a bridge (the “Hell-Bridge” of the temple name) over the chasm wherein awaits Am’mit, and that the faithful will cross over to Hanuman the Accursed’s realm in the Fourteen Kingdoms, where the demon servants of the gods reside. There they shall serve him for all eternity. Should they fail to please him in life, though, the bridge will fail, and their soul will be consumed by Am’mit.

Note: Hanuman the Accursed is not to be confused with the Telanghan god Hanuman the Mighty. Hanuman the Accursed is a Chaotic god who has taken the name of the ancient and honored god in mockery of all that he represents.

5) TEMPLE TEMPTER (“Temple of the Spider-Goddess”)
Gods: Nephthys Queen of Coin, the Bountiful Lady, the Spider-Goddess. Originally a goddess of Alt Ghinor, sister of Isis and Osiris and sister-wife of Set, she long ago broke from that pantheon and set out on her own, and has done very well as a patron of merchants and of trade. Though on friendly terms with most other Lawful gods, and even with her siblings and former pantheon-mates, she allows no other gods sanctuary at her temples; perhaps she learned from her own history, in which she usurped the powers and portfolio of the Spider-God, Yezud, once her lover and ally.

In the Dungeons beneath Temple Tempter
Worshipers: Merchants, moneyed aristocrats, bankers, thieves, money-changers, and whores, as well as craftsmen and any who travel or trade coin. Anyone down on his luck will also seek out the Spider-Goddess, as she is said to have power over luck, good and ill. Sybarites, too, make offerings to continue their lives of wealth and idle pleasure.

All, especially merchants, of any faith or alignment, are welcome to leave an offering to the goddess, to invoke her good will and protection during a journey or transaction. Just make sure the offering is worthy of her attention!

Priesthood: Mostly clerics, with a few bards, monks, and rangers; paladins are very rare.

Patriarch: Psinar of the Outlands.

Alignment: Worshipers and petitioners may be of any alignment. Clerics may be Lawful or Neutral, and Neutrals may advance beyond 6th level.

Symbol: A gold coin with eight spider legs.

Enemy Gods and Demons: Yezud, the Spider-God, still survives, though his power is much reduced, and he actively seeks retribution against Nephthys and her followers. She is also opposed to Set, her brother/ex-husband, who actively meddles in her affairs (a personal vendetta), as well as his son, her nephew, Harmakhis. Her son Anubis is on cordial terms, but is no longer an enemy (yet neither is he an ally).

Regular Worshiper’s Benefits: Networking. Anybody who is somebody eventually passes through the temple seeking wealth or luck. Every time a worshiper attends a ceremony or event beyond the first per month, there’s a chance (flat half the tithe percentage each time) that one of the priests he knows will introduce him to someone important (or at least, seemingly so) — and the better the tithe, the better placed the new connection. You get a 10% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Semi-Exclusive Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may use a language slot to learn the language of giant spiders, or learn it later through worship and training. You get a 25% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Initiate Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may cast animal companion (giant spiders) (note that you are limited to no more than 2 HD per level in giant spiders as companions at any one time). Once you have cast the spell, you regain its use only after you sacrifice at the temple and engage in at least two hours of prayer. You get a 50% discount on all spell-casting services and events.

Afterlife: Another Ghinorian faith, like those who follow Thoth and of the Hell-Bridge Temple, followers of Nephthys believe those whose sins balance with the Feather of Ma’at are granted a place in the Seven Halls of Fair Ament, where eternity will go on much as did life, while those whose sins are lighter than the Feather of Ma’at and whose accomplishments are great are granted estates in the Offering Fields amid the palaces of the gods — specifically of course, the palace of Nephthys. Those whose heart is heavier than the feather will be consumed by the beast, Am’mit, in whose bowels the damned writhe for all eternity. 

However, even in such cases, provided the faithful follower of Temple Tempter followed the proper rituals and made the proper sacrifices to Nephthys, though they fail the measure of Ma’at, their soul may be rescued before damnation by the Web of the Goddess. If so, their soul is returned to the land of the living, there to be reincarnated a giant spider in the temple. A lifetime of good service as a temple guardian and the soul may be reincarnated (reborn as a child), with another chance at life and death. 

But even the Web of the Goddess has its limits, and a soul stained with too much evil can snap the web, and fall into the maw of Am’mit...

6) YNAS NUDDROL (“Temple of All Gods but One”)
Gods: In the mists before the Beginning, Fate and Chance cast lots to decide whose the Game should be; and he that won strode through the mists to MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI and said: ‘Now make gods for Me, for I have won the cast and the Game is to be Mine.’ Who it was that won the cast, and whether it was Fate or whether Chance that went through the mists before the Beginning to MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI — none knoweth.The Book of Wonder

The Sign of Mung
The creator of the world and the gods in it – MANA-YOOD-SUDHAI – is not itself worshipped; in fact, should it awaken, all the world and all the gods it created will be undone. And so, the temple helps Skarl, the Drummer-God, keep the Creator asleep with drums playing at all hours of the day and night. But then, too, as all gods were created by MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI, all gods are equally worthy of veneration – or so the canon reads and the priests of the Temple of Pegana saith.

Thus, there are more than ten thousand niches in the wall of the temple, each filled with a small idol or icon of a god, demi-god, or godling, many of them strange and alien. Every day, one of the countless gods is venerated above the others… there are more than ten-thousand days in the Cycle of Pegana. The twin sanctuaries in the temple represent Fate and Chance (square and round, respectively), the ultimate ideals of Law and Chaos, and stand empty, save for sigil-covered pillars representing the ideals (for how does one depict the ineffable?)

In practice, the faith is very mystical and overly complex, being divided into many suborders (one per guild, plus others), each with many ranks, bizarre clothing, outlandish titles, and each with its own set of exotic rituals (a la Freemasons and similar organizations). Secrecy is paramount, and advancing through each rank requires time, patience, service, bribes, taboos, and no little hazing.

Worshipers: Guildsmen, of any of the craft guilds, for the temple and its patriarch were central to the founding of the guilds more than four centuries ago. At least, any guildsman who knows what’s good for him stops by and makes an offering at least once a month, lest his “luck” run out and the “gods” burn down his store, break his legs, or cause boils to erupt on his bottom.

The temple is also one of the few favored by illusionists and magic-users — those who do not find what they seek at the Temple of Thoth or the Hell-Bridge Temple will almost certainly find acceptance here. Thieves, interestingly, also tend to worship at this temple, though the Guildmaster, like the Overlord, does not favor any one temple over others.

Priesthood: Clerics, magic-users, and illusionists; though the temple is strongly Chaotic, anti-paladins are few and far between.

Patriarch: Mung the Sinister, Cardinal of the Temple of Pegana and Grand Master of the Union of Craft Guilds. AKA the Undying, the Immortal, and the Master of Death. Some say he is a demi-god or godling; others claim he is a demon or devil. He is certainly no one to be trifled with, even without his Beast.

Alignment: Neutral or Chaotic, though even Lawful craftsmen worship here regularly (if they know what’s good for them). Most initiates and priests are Chaotic, and clerics must be Chaotic to rise above 6th level.

Symbol: The Sign of Mung, as it is known, is a bone-white hand, palm facing forward, with fingers slightly spread out. A more esoteric symbol is a right triangle in a circle in a square.

Enemy Gods: None particularly, as none of the other gods really think much of the “petty gods and broken godlings” revered by the Pegana, let alone their “empty and hollow” holy of holies.

Regular Worshiper’s Benefits: Training. The faithful can get discount training for any craft, even many covered by one of the other major faiths. Also, networking, as at the Temple Tempter, only exclusively among the guildsmen and arcane practitioners. You get a 10% discount on all spell-casting services, events, and training.

Semi-Exclusive Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may use a language slot to learn Lenapashim, or learn it later through worship and training. You get a 25% discount on all spell-casting services, events, and training.

Initiate Worshiper’s Benefit: As above, plus you may cast mending. Once you have cast the spell, you regain its use only after you sacrifice at the temple and engage in at least two hours of prayer. You get a 50% discount on all spell-casting services, events, and training.

Afterlife: The Book of Wonder speaks of many things, but oddly enough it mentions nothing about the afterlife. Common belief among the faithful is that the soul goes on to a Celestial paradise, awaiting the next world, there to be reborn as a godling with the power of MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI. When asked, Cardinal Mung just shrugs his shoulders and says, “With the gods, it is always NOW. So why worry?”

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